ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Chosen from across Anne Arundel County, six trailblazing women will be honored during the 23rd annual Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception, held Sunday, Oct. 7, at 4 p.m. at the Frances Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md.
The reception celebrates the late civil rights heroine, Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as local civil rights heroes. Known for impacting their community through social justice or community outreach, each woman made a lasting mark on the Anne Arundel County community. Each of this year’s honorees—Amy Cruice, Argo Duenas, Leah Frazier, Vickie Gipson, Erika Johnson, and Kathleen Johnson—join the ranks of more than 100 notable women, including former Senator Barbara Mikulski.
Of note are Argo Duenas and Kathleen Johnson: Duenas is a military veteran and the first African American woman to establish a holistic health and wellness center in Annapolis. Kathleen Johnson, like Hamer, was one of the original marchers in the 1963 March on Washington, and continues her social activism to this day—even in her eighties. Other special guests will include Congressman John P. Sarbanes,; Mayor Gavin Buckley; Annapolis Alderwoman Elly Tierney; and St. John’s College President Panayiotis Kanelos.
A buffet reception will immediately follow the program. Tickets are $35 in advance, and will also be available at the door, with proceeds benefiting the Civil Rights Foot Soldier Memorial in Annapolis. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 301.538.6353 or 443-871-5656 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Facebook pages; MLKMD or Carl Snowden for event details.
The event is sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Anne Arundel County and co-sponsored by St. John’s College. Many previous winners will be in attendance and recognized. Other invited special guests include Congressman Anthony Brown; Senator Chris Van Hollen; Senator Ben Cardin; and Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch.
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. The awards that bear her name recognize women from various racial backgrounds who, while not necessarily household names, have excelled in their chosen fields while working diligently to improve civil and human rights in the region.
Hamer was the last of 20 children born to Mississippi sharecropper parents. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., in that capacity.